What Athletes Should do About Coronavirus

By Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg

THIS week I will be jet hopping across the eastern seaboard as well as over in Europe to record a few podcasts and support athletes racing at Transgrancanaria. With the ongoing COVID-19 (formerly known as the Coronavirus) outbreak, I did not take this travel lightly. International travel has been touch and go and I have had several athletes with domestic and international travel who are rightfully concerned. Several sporting events have already been altered or cancelled, including the Tokyo Marathon, which paired down its event to elites only in an attempt to limit a mass gathering of people. Even the French have had to issue a warning advising citizens to forgo their customary greeting la bise (kisses on both cheeks) in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus. Sacré bleu!

COVID-19 will continue to affect athletic events in the US and abroad.  And many athletes are wondering if the races they are registered for are going to take place at all. There’s even been discussion around this summer’s Olympic Games being impacted. Furthermore, there’s a real chance that the virus could spread into our communities, impacting day to day life and your training.

So what should athletes do? Pack up and head home? Run on a sanitized treadmill or ride the indoor trainer for the next 9 months? Build a fortress, dig a moat, pull up the drawbridge and live off of canned beans and MREs for the next 12 months? I am not a doctor or epidemiologist, but from a coaching standpoint I have got some sane, rational and at times boring advice for you to stay healthy and sane during this outbreak.

Outbreaks like this tend to bring out the worst of our fears. It’s difficult to count how many cases there are, the future spread of the virus is unknown and tuning into more than a few minutes of the 24-hour cable news cycle will make you think the COVID-19 outbreak is going to be next level apocalyptic. Be careful about where you are getting your information. If you want reasonable, rational information about the virus and up to date advice on travel and precautions go to the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control. This is not a time for ‘news by Facebook’.

Also, I would be willing to bet the vast majority of people reading this article are not in one of the high risk categories, such as the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. This being the case, realize that if you do get sick, your job is to not infect other people who may be more vulnerable. Your life will likely be miserable for a period of time, and you should take the illness seriously, but recognize that it is likely more dangerous for others. Although we have already seen deaths in the US from COVID-19, consequences are unlikely to be that extreme among this readership.

Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg,Co-authors of “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning”